We are coming out of the market this morning, the children a little ahead of me as usual. Morgan pushes at a big heavy door, but she can't manage it on her own. She looks over at Jenna and says, "Hewp pweese! 'Cuse me! Hewp!"
"I'll get it!" Jenna opens the door and stands holding it for her sister.
Another adult pushes past Morgan and goes out of the door, glancing at Jenna holding it open but saying nothing. Morgan beams at Jenna and says, "ag-you Nenna!"
They hold the door, together, waiting for me. Then they spontaneously join hands and walk like that for a few minutes. Jenna raises Morgan's hand and kisses it and they grin at each other again. I haven't said a word to either of them - I don't need to.
But there is plenty I COULD say...
It isn't the only time adults in a hurry push past us in one short morning. It happens all the time. Some of them even tut, or say things like, "out of the WAY!" None of them think of saying "excuse me" to a small child. After all, small children don't understand that sort of thing, or aren't worthy of it, right? Nor is it the first time that someone doesn't notice when Jenna holds a door open. Which she does. A lot.
She doesn't notice or care, to be honest, whether or not anyone sees her being helpful. She doesn't even point it out to *me*, or expect me to say anything about it. But that doesn't mean I don't personally fume to see folks just ignore her - after all, how many of them would think it was OK prompt her to thank THEM if they did something for HER?
My children are not always paragons of virtue in the way they speak to other people (neither am I). And they are frequently in their own little worlds and don't notice when someone else is annoyed with them (um, taking after me again) or when their behaviour isn't quite in tune with everyone else's (ie the library, where I gently point to the people silently working as we walk through the more formal areas, whispering, "I think these people would be happier with quiet!"). But mostly, they do actually care about other people and how they feel, and they remember silly adult rules like saying sorry for getting in someone's way even though nobody is actually *hurt* by the brief pavement-dance...
They have learnt by example. By the adults that they see around them.
So if, as I keep hearing, "children these days" are rude, demanding, inconsiderate... Well, who are they watching? Could it possibly be that they see more people push past them and tut than they do people who actually treat THEM as worthy of respect? Could it BE that they see more people demanding better service than they do waiting patiently and treating shop-workers like human beings? Could it be that they get TOLD to say thankyou far more often than they hear a grown-up saying it?